This Mortal Coil at Krakencon 2018
Oct 2, 2018, 4:49:43 AM
I shared a table with my friend at Krakencon this weekend, and I wanted to do a breakdown of the convention from a financial point of view and share my thoughts on the experience.
TL;DR: It wasn't great from a numbers perspective. I lost money. Click through to read the rest of the story...
This Mortal Coil at Krakencon 2018: The Raw Numbers
I know most people don't like to go into the nitty-gritty of their finances when it comes to tabling at conventions, but I'd like to be transparent about both the good and negative stuff of creating This Mortal Coil so you can get a more holistic picture of it. It's not all sunshine and puppies.
So here we go...
Over the weekend, I made about $126 in sales -- 2 art books, 2 graphic novels, 2 Lolita Fashion coloring books, some miscellaneous purchases of bookmarks and buttons, and one amazing $5 commission I did, which I can't show you because it's so not safe for work or anything else, but maybe, maybe I will if you ask nice enough.
After county taxes, that's about $115.34.
My expenses for this convention are thus:
Table: My half of the Krakencon table.
Misc: Some materials we bought for the table.
Production: Printing the books and packaging them up.
Food: Food at the convention. I'm not counting the dinners I had with friends, those were personal expenses.
Transportation: Plane ticket, Lyft rides, parking, tolls
After all that, it leaves me with a net of -$541.67.
So, Krakencon from a financial point of view was a huge bust for me.
Why was it a bust?
Krakencon is an small anime convention in Oakland, CA. It got a small but decent amount of foot traffic, but a lot of people coming through are probably looking for anime fan goods, and This Mortal Coil, while being inspired by anime, is not an anime product. The demographic also seemed to skew young from what I could see from my table, and so maybe my prices were too high. I had one or two people cite budget as a reason why they liked my stuff but wasn't buying, that's totally cool with me.
In hindsight (20/20 vision right?)... maybe I didn't need another book. I could have not done an artbook and printed more of my graphic novel only. That would have cut down one expense. This was probably more of an emotional-thing than a thought through business-thing. I wanted to have a new thing to sell. It did sell just about as many copies as anything else did at the con, so... they're all kind of even keel. Even my inventory is about even for all these books.
I gave out plenty of business cards and I hope folks who did stop by go on to check out the webcomic here and enjoy the content.
Unexpectedly, the Lolita Fashion coloring book did sell -- and I thought it wouldn't. One woman even noticed the book on the table and said she already owned it, so that was awesome! Another woman who is learning Lolita fashion design bought a copy from me. Also awesome!
Friends came out to support me, and I thank them. It was also wonderful to see my friends from NorCal again since I don't get many chances too.
I also had time to do a bunch of art while sitting at the convention. I haven't done traditional art in a while. I'm continuing with my thread of "Magical Girl Kamiko" drawings that depict her life as, well, a magical girl deity. A sample:
I did one commission, a small one of Dickbutt. A guy was walking around asking all of the artists at the convention if they would do a simple sketch commission for $5. Dickbutt is a character with a dick in his butt, but he himself is a dick. My version is called "Sneeze."
It's not safe for work; it's not even safe for not work. If you really want to see it, you can urge me on in the comments, or whenever another dickbutt gallery shows up, you can scour the thousands of entries for mine.
So What's Next?
I always had a sense I wouldn't do good with anime conventions, and this was proof, but it's also one point of data.
My previous convention, the Alternative Press Expo, I did pretty decently. Folks are there looking for indie comics, and I think that's the demographic I need to target.
I don't think this means I'll out rule all anime conventions, but they're lower priority to me.
This is what I think my next step is:
Build a list of indie comic/zine conventions and festivals. Look for ones from around the country and beyond and figure out the cost for doing each convention and then see if any of them make sense.
Probably right off the bat, I can say: it makes sense if it's local. Then I don't have to get a hotel or flight. I can drive to the convention and that lowers the expenses and makes it more profitable.
Los Angeles does have a bunch of conventions like that, so those are the ones I may target first. Second would be NorCal. Or... maybe San Diego? Maybe excluding SDCC. I might want to spend some of 2019 going to some of these conventions too to get a feel for them.
Another potential avenue is to try and do digital sales. I have a square shop setup, and I could try and use that as a base of operations. I've been learning Facebook ads and making better and better ads that get clicks -- now I need to figure out how to get sales from those clicks.
A third thing: create new content. I don't have a new Mortal Coil comic, BUT...
I have a new Mortal Coil novella on Amazon Kindle. It's entitled The Shinigami. Don't worry, you'll be hearing more about that in the coming days.
I also promised that chapter 1 would be up for reading, so expect that sometime in October, and I will talk about it since it came out of the blue, but it is a new episode for Kamiko.
So that's it...
Krakencon 2018 was great because I got to see my friends in NorCal and prepare a new art book.
It was ultimately a bust as I spent more than I made to prepare for the show and the sales were lackluster.
It's probably because it's the wrong venue for me.
I would say secondary it could be my prices, but I did sell a lot of books at APE (and not all to friends) so it makes me think it's not entirely the case.
I feel bad about that, but if you don't try things, you don't get to reap the rewards or know what's possible out there.
I fail a lot, and mentally it takes its toll.
Should I continue doing this? Should I do anything? It's easier to turtle myself and stick to my day job. I do good there, so what's wrong with that?
Why not spend my free time playing video games or watching TV shows?
I know it makes sense to say that, as I work at this, fail at this, eventually I will make progress towards something definitive.
I will reach a milestone.
But, it means I'm running away from something too, and maybe I'm running in the wrong direction. I don't know how many more failures it will take to bring me to a breaking point, nor what that breaking point is: will I learn how to make better stories and sell them directly to readers? Draw better comics?
I don't know.
I was reading through the experience I had at APE and a lot of these same doubts are there. It makes a pattern, and I don't know if that is a subtle message to let it all go. Or maybe this is how I continue to temper my expectations and grow.